I believe the people of Haines want our local businesses to succeed. What is misunderstood is the role of balanced, deliberative planning and doing what’s reasonable and fair to create a vibrant business environment. In November, the borough assembly made a very positive decision when it charged the heli-skiing working group to work on a consensus basis and provide recommendations to the borough assembly that would result in a memorandum of agreement on specific terms for heli-ski operations. The consensus process was aborted when the draft ordinance appeared out of the blue. The ordinance specifics did not come out of the working group and the group did not know that one of their members would serve as the mediator and represent them in drafting the ordinance with the attorney and the borough.
In the meantime, there is talk that the 33 Mile Roadhouse property was recently sold to someone with plans to build a lodge and at least one other lodge to be built by a heli-ski owner along the Haines Highway that would take considerable lodging and restaurant business out of town. The stakeholders are thrown back into the scrambling game and balanced planning for a thriving economy and a sustainable environment is jeopardized. I urge the people of Haines to seek approval from the borough assembly to continue bringing forth the information necessary for a memorandum of agreement that can be tested this season. I think everyone wants this to be a win-win situation.
Editor’s note: 33 Mile Roadhouse owner Kathi Lapp this week said there was a possibility the roadhouse would be sold, but that no sale has occurred.